Portage Lake Majors remain undefeated in district tournament

IRONWOOD — After winning their opening two games of the District 11 Tournament in Ironwood, the Portage Lake Little League Majors All-Stars came into Tuesday’s matchup with Marquette looking for a third win and an automatic berth in the championship series. With a 12-2 victory in four innings, Portage Lake earned that berth.

For manager Wes Frahm’s team, earning the right to play for their fourth straight district title was the goal from the time the players hit the field for their first practice.

“When we started All-Star practice, our first goal is to win the district,” said Frahm. “The bar has been set there because Portage Lake has won at this level either three or four years in a row already.”

Frahm’s team features kids who have already won three titles, two in minors and one in majors.

“I’ve got kids on here that have already won three in a row,” said Frahm. “That’s the expectation that we have as a league right now and we have put ourselves in a position to do so again.”

Tuesday, Portage Lake rallied around pitcher Bryce Pugh, who was dominated the first three innings on the mound, striking out eight and not surrendering a walk.

The lanky hurler found a rhythm early and kept things simple, throwing strikes with such velocity that Marquette’s bats could not keep up.

“He’s a big, tall kid and he uses his leverage well,” said Frahm. “He throws hard and he was very efficient. He didn’t throw a lot of balls, he just threw strikes.”

Considering that Portage Lake held Pugh off the mound until Tuesday, Frahm feels that the depth of his pitching is as good as it has ever been.

“He hadn’t pitched in the tournament until (yesterday), so that is a pretty good weapon in that we could get two wins without having to pull him out yet,” said Frahm. “He came in when we called upon him and he did a good job.”

At the plate, Portage Lake hitters earned four walks as they racked up a 9-0 lead in the game. After giving up two runs in the top of the fourth, they drew another four walks en route to picking up another three runs to earn the win by mercy.

“I am proud of our approach at the plate,” said Frahm.

Bryce Hanner had three of Portage Lake’s seven hits by going 3-for-3.

With the win, Portage Lake awaits the winner of Marquette and Ishpeming when they next take the field on Thursday. If they defeat the winner of that game, Portage Lake will be district champs. Should they lose, Portage Lake will have one more opportunity to earn the title on Friday.